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Sep 24, 2011

PRESS RELEASE

The Wilderness Society

The Action Plan for Public Lands and Education Act is a public land giveaway

Western states could be stuck in financial gridlock 
while corporate polluters profit

WASHINGTON (September 22, 2011) - The Wilderness Society today strongly opposed H.R. 2852, “The Action Plan for Public Lands and Education Act of 2011,” introduced in the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee. This hearing comes during Great Outdoors America Week, in the heart of National Wilderness Month, and just days before Public Lands Day on September 24.

Testifying before the Subcommittee, David Alberswerth, Senior Policy Advisor at The Wilderness Society, said, “We oppose enactment of H.R. 2852, which essentially requires the federal government to give away 5 percent of the ‘unappropriated public lands,’ in each western state,” which includes most Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Forest lands. “This is an unwarranted and unmerited giveaway of assets owned by all Americans to a select few states.”

According to our initial analysis, the legislation would require 29.8 million acres to be transferred to the western states, effectively giving away tens of billions of dollars of American taxpayer assets without compensation to those taxpayers. In his testimony, Alberswerth offers alternative and better ways to enhance the revenues of western states. For example, oil and gas companies only pay a 12.5 percent royalty rate for oil and gas extracted from federal public lands, while often paying significantly higher royalty rates on state-owned lands.

"… [O]ur recommendation is that, instead of promoting a bill like H.R. 2852 which unnecessarily perpetuates conflicts, misunderstandings, and gridlock over the status and management of America’s public lands and national forests, the sponsors of this legislation should change direction and seek out practical solutions to the nettlesome issues of federal/state land and resource ownership patterns,” Alberswerth said.

Sadly, this legislation comes during a barrage of unprecedented attacks on America’s lands and waters from a minority in Congress:

    • Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R, CA-22) has introduced, The Great Outdoors Giveaway, that would give corporate polluters access to over 50 million acres of protected national forests and BLM lands.
    • Devastating budget cuts have been made to our most needed programs, and further cuts could result in closures in our national parks, refuges and other wild places.
    • Several members of Congress have introduced numerous bills that would severely undercut the President’s ability to designate national monuments using the Antiquities Act.
    • Various bills have been introduced that would waive environmental regulations and destroy public lands on our nation’s borders, and eviscerate the Wilderness Act of 1964.

      The Wilderness Society will continue to work with people across the U.S. to ensure that bipartisan wilderness legislation becomes law, and protect our natural heritage for future generations.

      ###

      The Wilderness Society is the leading public-lands conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 500,000 members and supporters, TWS has led the effort to permanently protect 110 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. www.wilderness.org


      The Wilderness Society
      202.833.2300 
      1615 M St, NW, Washington, DC 20036
      www.wilderness.org

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      Posted: Sep 24, 2011 1:12pm

       

       
       
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